All posts by Everett - TipsFor.us

5 Shortcomings of the iPhone 3G

iPhone
iPhone

Well, since I’m on the topic this week, I thought I’d mention my main grievances with my iPhone 3G.

1. Short battery life. My Motorola Razor could last a couple days without charging… perfect if I ended up crashing at a friend’s house or forgot my charger while traveling. But the iPhone pretty much needs juice every night. Moreover is that it seems inconsistent with its consumption rate. I don’t really understand how and when it’s doing stuff on the sly… like I THINK I turn it off, but it might secretly be gathering whether reports from Cuba or calculating the Shopping Days Until Christmas. (see my earlier rant).

2. Text messages don’t display dates and times on each message. I’m pretty forgetful, so sometimes I want to look back and find out when I texted someone… e.g. “Where were you on the night of the 22nd?” “Uh… I was at home.” “WHEN were you home?” “Oh, I texted my friend at… uh… oh crap…” I can just see someone going to jail for this somehow.

3. Keyboard is Vertical only. The Texting and Mailing apps don’t let you rotate the screen so you can have a WIDE keyboard… they’re stuck upright and cramped.

4. Can’t copy and paste text. Like say I’m surfing the web (cool)… then I want to send that link to a friend… uh… simple, yet impossible.

5. You can’t download stuff from web sites and save them to a file system. Yar. Even if you download them on your computer, it’s a tangled web of work-arounds to get files onto your phone. I’m stuck even trying to get my photo libraries on my phone… I know it’s possible, but I was stumped for about 5 minutes, then moved on to other more important things… like being a consumer whore (har har).

Six Weird iPhone Apps

Apple Mac
As some of you know, I recently got an iPhone 3G. I really like it… such an improvement over my other phone. What really blows me away is the vast array of applications for this device. Seriously. Who the hell is writing these things? Here is my list of strange iPhone apps, in random order.

1. Hello Cow — It’s an app that moos at you. Ok. It’s an improvement on the programmer’s perfunctory “Hello World.”

2. Useless $1000 App — Well… they pulled this one, but some guy made an app that did nothing and he charged $1000 for it. Some rich fools patronized him. Why didn’t I think of that?

3. Call Checker — This “handy” app calculates whether it’s a decent time for you to call someone… it handles times zones and such. It sounds remotely useful until you realize that the built-in clock on the iPhone can easily display times in any city and in any time zone. An improvement would be if the app could sense the mood of the person you were trying to call, e.g. if they were out on a date, asleep, with their OTHER boyfriend, or whatever… THAT would be a cool app. This app, unfortunately, isn’t.

4. iQuit — a program to help you quit smoking. Contains graphic images and in-your-face videos depicting the shocking truths behind nicotine addition. Wow. I hope this helps some people. I’m kinda upset that herds of chemists are out there working to make cigarettes as addictive as possible while some party-people just puff away without realizing how badly they might be damaging their bodies. Then again, a meteor might become crashed into us at any moment, and that would make my pompous commentary rather insignificant.

5. Wide Mail Keyboard — This one is overdue… the keypad for texting and emailing is amazing in theory, but in practice you tend to fat-finger things on an iPhone. Most apps will rotate if you put your phone into landscape position, but not the Text and Mail apps. Yar. This app promises to remedy that omission.

6. How Many Shopping Days Until Christmas? — Finally! An app for consumer whores! Seriously? Please. As a developer, I love that the platform is open, but if you want to open up development, then why not open up the other parts of development? Like product specs and quality control? This is one app that would never see the light of day if there were some sort of reality check in the process.

Well, I could go on, but I won’t. The point is that there is an app out there for just about anything. My favorites? Well, they’re kinda specific to me. I use an ear-training app…. other than that, I mostly stick to the defaults, but I will mention that the technology behind the Midomi app is amazing… you hum a part of a song, and it will tell you what song it is (and it’s pretty accurate, too!). The other app I use a lot (as a composer) is the Recorder… you can simply record stuff. Memos, song ideas, whatever. It’s really useful. You can then email the sound files around.

Run as the Root Account

Well, some days you need some tips, some days you need some humor. Today is a day when I need to laugh at something, because I just got a phone call from the Dow Jones Industrial average… it said “go F@#% yourself!” So… the article I’m linking to only makes sense if you know something about Linux, but I thought it was pretty hilarious: Run as Root

Running as root will change your life. People will no longer cut you off in the lunch line, and if you tell someone to go screw themselves, don’t be surprised if they actually do it.

People or Things that Ran as Root

  • Chuck Norris
  • Trogdor
  • That guy who took a picture of himself every day for 6 years
  • Hurricane Katrina
  • The 1968 Toronto Maple Leafs
  • Large Hadron Collidor

Home & End: Key Bindings in OS X

One thing has bothered me about Macs: the key bindings. Specifically, I was annoyed that the home, end, page up, and page down keys don’t work like they “normally” do on a Windows machine. I found myself having to use the awkward “Apple + arrow” combinations to advance to the front or end of a line (home and end normally send the cursor to the beginning or end of the document, not the line). This is awkward at best, and it was made even more awkward when you consider the layout of my Kinesis keyboard (trippy, I know).

Even if you don’t have a tripped out keyboard, it makes a lot of sense to have “normal” functionality for your home and end keys AND have the ctrl key functionality within reach when you’re working in the Terminal; a lot of Unix/Linux/Bash stuff is mapped to the ctrl key (e.g. ctrl + c to exit a bash program).

OS X has full flexibility on how you handle your key bindings (woot). All you have to do is create a file that remaps the desired keys. This is best done on a per-user basis, so you create a new file in the user’s Library. Create the directory and file (if necessary), and add the following:


/* This adds "normal" home, end, page up, page down functionality */
/* ~/Library/KeyBindings/DefaultKeyBinding.dict */
{
"\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLine:";
"^\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfDocument:";
"$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfLineAndModifySelection:";
"^$\UF729" = "moveToBeginningOfDocumentAndModifySelection:";
"\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLine:";
"^\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfDocument:";
"$\UF72B" = "moveToEndOfLineAndModifySelection:";
}

Once you’ve made the changes, log out your user and log back in (you don’t need to reboot). Try opening up a text editor and navigate around a document using the home and end keys. It’s great.

For full details on other key bindings and how to find and map more keys, check out this great post:
http://www.lsmason.com/articles/macosxkeybindings.html

Because of my keyboard layout, I also want to move my command key (i.e. Apple key) functionality over to the ctrl key — this doesn’t make much sense on a standard keyboard (where your pinky reflex starts going carpal tunnel), but it makes a lot of sense on a Kinesis keyboard where the ctrl key is directly next to your thumb but the Apple key is a bit of a reach. That article is a godsend.

iPhone 3G

iPhone 3G
iPhone 3G

I just upgraded from a Motorola Razor and bought an iPhone G3. You’ve probably seen your friends playing with their phones, and wow, it is really that cool. I never sucked it up to buy an iPod, so I enjoy the ability to have some music, a calendar, a camera, and a phone all in one little device. Some cynics may quickly point out that it isn’t a good iPod, or the phone sucks, or whatever; they are missing the point. This is an all-in-one thing. That can opener and cork screw on your Swiss Army Knife suck, but THEY WORK. The iPhone is the Swiss Army Knife of technology.

The only “problem” I’ve had so far is that when I bought the phone, it was activated within minutes. My Razor went dead before I had left the store, so I ran home as quickly as I could so I could hook up my phone to my computer. You setup your phone by launching iTunes (weird, I know). It only took a couple clicks and the thing was working. Some co-workers have had trouble with the sensors on the phone and have had to get the phone replaced. I’m wary, but unworried.

When you get an iPhone G3, you can surf the web all day without paying any extra money because you are tapping into the “public” G3 network… sometimes slow, but are you kidding? It’s frickin’ great. I took the subway home today and a gentleman asked me which stop he needed to get off at, and poof, I hit up Safari and Google maps and I told him exactly which bus to take and when he’d arrive within a couple minutes.

I have to stick it to the man and say “AT&T you suck”… seriously… they are getting enough of my money each month between DSL, landline, and a mobile plan. Some places, I could pay rent for less than what I pay AT&T each month. Da–yam!

You can now purchase an iPhone at any Apple Store, AT&T Store, or Best Buy.

Secure Memory on Mac OS X

Nothing cheeses me off more than lazy Mac OS X users who don’t lift a finger to secure their OS. Yeah, Macs are currently not the most common target for hacks and viruses (viri?), but that hardly means that they’re invulnerable.

You can read more about some OS X security stuff, but here’s the quickie way to turn on your secure virtual memory:

  1. Open System Preferences.
  2. Double-click the Security icon from within the Personal section.
  3. Press on the padlock to enable changes.
  4. Supply a username and permission possessing administrator rights.
  5. Check the box for Use Secure Virtual Memory.

Even if this makes no sense to you, you should do it. If you don’t, talented hackers can read your swap files and gain access to all kinds of sensitive information… verily, they could read ANYTHING that gets stored in memory. Passwords, your web site logins, your porn…

A swap file is simply a temporary file that’s used while you edit a file. If you’ve ever used the OS X terminal, you may have edited files using one of the command line editors, like vi. You may have noticed that when you edit some_document.txt, there will be a file created some_document.txt.swp while you are editing the file… that file persists until you’re all done editing the file and you’ve closed the editor. Virtual memory works similarly… it writes the contents of the RAM to a temporary file. Enabling “Secure” virtual memory encrypts this temporary file while it’s on disk… so even if someone has access to your disk, they won’t be able to see the contents of your memory.